Foodie Friday with William Stafford

I don’t know why I haven’t thought of doing a Friday feature on food before. There must be a number of foodie poems out there to choose from, more than just about plums and apple picking. And who knows, maybe I’ll cook something worth sharing on here. It’s been a hobby of mine for ages now. I just reorganized my cookbooks on a very crowded baker’s rack. I’m sure it would give Martha Stewart fits to see it.

So let’s start off this debut of Foodie Friday with a poem about my very favorite, even more precious than chocolate. That’s right, I’m taking about garlic. The fresh stuff, not the powder or salted kind. The kind I chop up in my homemade humus, crush into my tomato sauces, add to almost anything. I even have a recipe for garlic chip cookies I’ve been thinking of trying.

Proust talks about memory being attached to taste and texture, but how about smell? Good memories of Grandma’s house wafting through the air.

Allyl methyl sulfide is the stuff that gets into your bloodstream, and therefore into every fluid in your body, even your sweat. Some people are offended by the scent, but I just cannot grasp that concept. It’s like the perfume of the gods to my nostrils. Nothing better than lying down for a nap, long after chopping the stuff, only to find the scent still on my hands, now tucked under my head, that beautiful aroma ushering me off to a garden dream land.

Here’s William Stafford’s “Ode to Garlic.”

22 Comments Add yours

  1. There is, I believe, a sizable body of research attesting to memory’s link to the sense of smell. Nothing brings back memories like aromas. It is believed by some that the experience of deja vu is in fact the triggering of the memory parts of the brain by the experience of an aroma.
    Or I could be mis-remembering….
    Or I could have just made all this up….
    …because of something I smelled
    that reminded me of….
    …the veranda of my grandmother’s
    house on Mockingbird Lane in
    Dallas, Texas, circa 1976, with the
    cicadas making such a cacophony
    in the heat, in the scent of the
    old wood of the dusty attic, and
    that waxy box of ancient cast-
    metal cars that she used to drag
    out whenever we came to visit, and
    the smell of the nursing home when
    we went to visit after her third (or
    was it her fourth) stroke when the
    only one she recognized was my
    father (her son-in-law not her
    own daughter) whom she still
    called “Georgie-boy”…..


    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a dang good story for being made up! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Oh the story is for reals… best I can remember it anyway….😉

      Liked by 1 person

    3. I believe you, I do! It took me years not to associate the smell of sauerkraut with visits from my grandmother. It actually took me learning how to make it my own way, instead of whatever it was that my mother did—I suspect she just dumped it out of a can over hot dogs in the pot. Now I actually like the smell again because I make it with pork and a couple of minor additions. Oh! And from a jar or bag, never a can. It tastes and smells like a can. And if I smell that I have a sudden urge to hide my dad’s cigars and check Grandma’s purse for stolen cans of soup from the pantry. Yeah, Gram was a klepto. It’s all true.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for that.
    I guess I needed it.

    And I’m pretty sure that with a few
    jogs down Memory Lane, and all
    the years I’ve spent in the industry,
    I’ll bet I can come up with a few examples
    of great food poems (besides, yes,
    Bill’s damned, frosty plums)
    ….I’ll let you know….

    (And, of course, how could you not think of doing Foodie Friday? The alliteration simply begs for it to happen!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Stafford, from that same book, has a lovely little poem about the kitchen too. And I already have several good poems in mind.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I too have a couple in mind off the top of my head. One Daniel Hapern piece about “How to eat dinner alone” (or something like that) and this great Gwendolyn Brooks piec ) “In the kitchenette” I think?Shall I email them to you?

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Sure! There’s one I have to look up called “Thirty Burgers, Thirty Fries.” At least, I think that’s what it’s called.

      Liked by 1 person

    4. Awesome title. I’ll have to see if I can find the link but there’s a recording of a speech by Mark Doty where he reads “Seventh Avenue” by Mark Halliday. It’s a fantastic piece but….well, perhaps it’s stretching the “foodie” theme.

      Liked by 1 person

    5. Oh! Had the title wrong. It’s “Short Order Cook” by Jim Daniels.


    6. The Brooks poem isn’t so much about food as it is about smells and food smells and living in close proximity to others. It’s haunting.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I am sure I can make use of that. Thanks! We won’t tell anyone.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. And not, of course, that you couldn’t have found that page on your own but I remembered (hic!) coming across it some time ago and the bells started ringing….

      Liked by 1 person

    3. haha, it’s probably one of the first places I would have started looking. They usually have some good theme pieces there.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Stafford had that marvelous ability to consider something as mundane as garlic and then make his observations into something lofty.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a great idea, featuring poetry on food. This one is lovely, and one of my favorites I remember you reading as well some time ago, about the plums, so cold and delicious.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. But Deborah! They weren’t for you! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ha! That took me a minute to get that one. Thought it was cold. Turns out it was sweet (and playful)!


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